Jacob Savery the Elder, Noah’s Ark


(Kortrijk 1565/1567 – 1603, Amsterdam)

Noah's Ark

Oil on panel, 42.5 x 72.2 cm


Jacob Savery was primarily known for his numerous paintings with close-up depictions of animals. His artistic vision and ideas were conveyed by the hidden meaning in his works, expressed through the symbolic interpretation of different animals. The artist’s works were highly valued during his lifetime already and the most prestigious European customers desired them into their collections. Savery had very lively imagination – he could endlessly vary the position and postures of animals in his paintings. The artist took example by the animalistic illustrations of Hans Verhagen and, in particular, Hans Bol’s “Icones animalium”, which consists of three albums created between 1572 and 1575. Bol’s albums came into the possession of Jacob Savery and then of his brother Roelandt who left them to the emperor Rudolf II. Between 1575 and 1582 Joris Hoefnagel (1542–1601), one of Bol’s students, painted “Animalia” for the emperor. In that composition Hoefnagel describes the animal kingdom in correlation with the four elements of nature. Such element-by-element division can also be found in Savery’s works: the land is represented by four-legged animals; fire by reptiles who, until the modern age, were considered to be immune to fire; air was associated with creatures that fly; and water with those that swim.

Condition report:

In overall very good condition.


Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland


Exhibition’s catalogue “Art Rules”, Tallinn, 2015


The Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia

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